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Celebrating 100 Disability-Focused Articles & Counting on the RYV! Blog!

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Centenarian birthday candles spell out '100'

I cannot believe we reached an incredible milestone recently – 100 disability-focused articles on the blog!  I never thought that this moment would come before the upcoming two-year anniversary of RYV!’s founding in July.  It feels wonderful to have achieved this disability writing benchmark, and I am overjoyed in celebrating and sharing my enthusiasm.

Lessons Learned After 100+ Posts

When I started writing on the blog, I wanted to highlight stories I believed were important to share, whether it was headline news of looming healthcare crisis, and the bullying of disabled students, to sharing articles about dating, love, and sex with a disability that allowed disabled women to discuss their experiences.  The reactions to some of the more controversial posts transcended even my own vision for the RYV! blog; the open-mindedness and dialogue stirred blew me away, and pumped me up to write more thought-invoking pieces about the diverse disabled experiences.

I have learned several valuable lessons in writing weekly on the blog, and here are a few of them:

  • People want to read articles from actually disabled persons.
    I continue to be amazed at the responses received from able-bodied persons on my posts, especially when I share them on certain social media platforms.  People have a tendency to value the knowledge and life experiences of those who are different from them, particularly when such articles touch on matters that they may not feel comfortable asking, or explains a situation they never thought of before.  Getting that “outside looking in” viewpoint helps to reshape perceptions, and extinguish inaccurate ones.  My E.I.E principle comes into play here:  Educate, Inform, Empower.  If my articles do that for just one reader, then I have fulfilled my disability writer purpose.
  • My voice and perspective matters, and people want to read what is on my mind.  
    The voices of disabled persons and advocates should be stronger, but with each writing we publish about our experiences, abilities, and capabilities, we strengthen our vocal volume exponentially.  Being a disabled Black woman, I distinctly understand the need of increasing our voice volume due to the limited visibility of disabled women of color in the disability community as advocates.  My fight for equality, justice, and freedoms matters, and it is important to share my plight, and the journey of others, with the world.  I learned this hard lesson in my almost 30 years on this planet:  if you wait around for others to care about the issues that matter to you, you will never get the opportunity to share your truth.  Very few organizations are focusing on the life journeys of disabled women of color, and I became restless in waiting; I did something about it – I created RYV.  I had a story to share, and I decided that creating my own space was the right way for me to do that.  From the responses I have received in almost two years, others appreciate and support my determination to validate diverse disabled stories.
  • Disabled people want to read articles about them from those whom they can identify with.
    Since jumpstarting RYV! almost two years ago, I have read hundreds of articles about the disabled experience that were mostly written by able-bodied journalists and writers.  The writings of those who are non-disabled differ greatly from those who are.  The lack of passion, anger (when needed for certain subject matters), and realness are visibly missing in pieces written by the able-bodied.  I am not discrediting able-bodied writers or journalists, but when you are not a member of the group you are reporting about, the detachment can be stark.  As a disabled person, I have a rich investment in what I write about concerning “my people,” and the passion, anger, and realness is visible within each piece that has been published on the blog.  I see traces of those same traits in the writings of other disabled persons who are gifted with words.  Writing is one medium that affords us a way we express ourselves, and provide insights into our world with the disabled community and the general population.  Due to the fact we live these lives each and every day, we have huge stakeholdings in what happens to members of this community; “outsiders” who write about us do not, and it is apparent in some of the pieces I have read over the past two years.  Even though we may not always agree with every perspective written by actually disabled writers and journalists, we understand their viewpoints, and value their unique input.  That is why it is imperative for us as a community to share our stories because no one can do it justice except us.
  • My confidence and abilities as a writer has grown tremendously.
    I definitely see how my writing has improved in almost two years with publishing weekly, and I love the way writing on the blog makes me feel with my abilities.  The differences in the articles I write now versus in 2013 when RYV! began is amazing; I write with an equal balance of heart, mind, and spirit, and it shows with each word, sentence, and paragraph.  In the past month, I have had people quote some of my articles on social media; seeing people pull pivotal statements out of my work to share with others is powerful.  My gift for writing is one that I have always nurtured, and am proud of, and this platform has provided the opportune chance to grow my talent in ways that empowers not only myself, but others like me.  Though I want to branch out beyond writing for RYV! within my advocacy work, writing will never go away because this is how I built my platform from the ground up.  My writing has a purpose, and belongs; that validation is all I need to remember as a writer when I sit to share yet another post week and week with my loyal readers and supporters.

Final Thoughts

I earnestly believe with every fiber of my being that RYV! will continue to meet more milestones, empower those who feel invisible, and crush stereotypes about who we are.  This is yet another significant moment in RYV’s history that has arrived, and I could not be more excited.

I plan to bring you even more shocking, in-depth stories as we strive to publish 200 posts on the blog.  All of this would be in vain without you, and I do want you to continue to share with me what you want to read on the blog.  As I like to say, it is never too late, too loud, or too demanding when it is time, and long overdue, to ramp your voice!

(Featured headlining image:  Courtesy of Phase Two Learning.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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